World Leader or Cornered Rat?*
All of us are born with genetic dispositions and a personality which is moulded by our life experiences. Putin was born in 1952 to a father crippled in the war and a mother who nearly starved to death in the Nazi Siege of Leningrad and who had already lost two children, one in infancy and the other who was placed in a Care Home and died of Diphtheria. Putin was therefore technically an only child born to impoverished parents and lived in a rat infested apartment that they shared with two other families. His parents had to work hard to make ends meet, and were undoubtedly affected by their own experiences of the war and the loss of their two sons and so would have had very little time to meet the emotional needs of little Vladimir. His mother once won a car and gave it to her son, but she wasn’t there to protect him from the rats as both parents had to work hard to make ends meet. So maybe they showed him love by giving him whatever material things they could afford, but never taught him how to feel safe and loved. Also it is likely that parents suffered depression and the children of depressed parents often blame themselves for their parents’ unhappy state. Depressed parents are unable to look after their emotional needs and therefore cannot ensure their children’s emotional needs are met either.
Strangely, research shows that an emotionally neglected child is likely to have more psychological issues than an abused child and in addition, Putin was an only child. A child who is neglected does not learn social skills and often attributes the lack of attention from significant people in their lives to being unloved. So they find it had to trust others and in order to stem the painful perception of not being acceptable the child learns to shut off feelings and eventually is unable to empathise.
Putin was small and was probably bullied by his peers, he had no particular skills but he perhaps learned from his parents that if you needed something it was never handed to you, but you could get it by working hard. Even now Putin works 17-19 hours a day. He discovered a passion for Judo. It perhaps appealed to him as the philosophy behind Judo is finding the weakness of his opponent and using it against him. It is also a non team sport where you only depend on your own skill to win. He went to University and studied law and then joined the KGB. Here he wasn’t the bright young star, but he was a hard worker and since he spoke fluent German he was deployed to East Germany until its collapse. He often talks of fighting off the rats in his childhood apartment with sticks and there have been moments in his life when he felt cornered and had to get out of situations using his wits. For example, when he was confronted by a mob of East Germans in Dresden at the Russian ministry of security, he allayed their suspicions by saying he spoke fluent German because he was a translator.
Putin does not share any details of his personal life or acknowledge his daughters publicly. His wife claims he spoilt his daughters – yet a man who works 19 hours a day cannot have time to invest in loving relationships with family. This is in contrast to the Ukrainian President Zelensky who married his former classmate Olena and who often posts pictures of his wife and children on Instagram. Here is a man who is grounded, open and has no secrets. Besides as a former comedian he has learned to tell jokes and be relaxed in his own skin.
Ukraine is seen as a threat to Putin if it joins NATO so to Putin it is perhaps another rat he has to confront, but he is so busy fighting off the rats, he has no time to be joyous or relax or form strong emotional bonds with others. Putin is therefore not a great leader, but merely is like the cornered vermin of his childhood a dangerous and cornered rat himself.
*This article was written by ‘The Common Sense Therapist’, a retired psychologist who lives overseas and wishes to remain anonymous. She has many decades of experience in dealing with various people and aspects of psychology, and is a great source of enlightenment on many things in life.